Where Do I Go ?


I finished my first draft and I was filled with the feeling of ” oh my… Yeah, yeah” with music and beauty floating around my head and then something happened.

All the things that I would read said the same thing. It said  let your book ruminate and give it time to become something that you can then successfully read and revise without that oh so helpful thing where your mind just adds the missing words that you meant to write , so that your words make no sense to anyone else.

This phase is all about adding and subtracting and fighting the increasing feeling that you are an idiot that wrote the worse book ever written.  That your book will make people run screaming into the streets and cry and weep and scream, they will pull out their eyes and deny the fact that they ever read anything, ever. Somehow your book will actually make other books you love less good. That authors you love will read the book and say ” No, never” to your requests to write a forward.  This is probably not going to happen. This has not happened to the various dubious novels that have been written in the world, both recent and long ago. There are people that count novels that I myself view as painfully bad among their favorites. So what are the odds that no one would read my book and at the very least say it was interesting, or entertaining? And I will not bring about the end of the world. I do not have that power.

But I do have this feeling that is completely and utterly fear-based.  I am afraid of my book. Just a little but the more that I think about what it would mean if this is terrible. The fear of what would happen if I am not a writer worth reading.  I am also thinking of what might happen if I am a writer worth reading. If I write a book that is worth the notice of people that matter, people like me that love books and reading to the point that they can invest years in the lives of people and places that never were. So I am in revisions and now I am realizing that either way fear must not be the thing that stops me. If it is, then I will be a failure of epic proportions.

So if you are having issues like mine there are a few quick and dirty tips that can help to make the experience a little less terror making .

Revision Tips

  1. Start revising as soon as you can 

Figure out what is your best timing but don’t wait too long. Often Procrastination will start pretending to be something cleaner, like reflection or research.

  1. Don’t spend ages making your first draft look pretty

This is just wasting time, include all the details you need to learn, but don’t try to produce a work of art. This is a ROUGH draft. It is just that, ROUGH.

  1. Take short breaks

— Every hour, not every 10 minutes. I enjoy using the pomodoro timers to help me myself on task.

  1. Use revision guidelines 

Cathy Yardley has great tips on her blog. I add also that you should treat the revisions just like you would treat your writing , have a plan and have a schedule on what you will finish each day .

  1. Get yourself drinks and snacks

So you don’t make excuses to stop every 10 minutes…

  1. Sit at a proper desk
  2. Don’t turn yourself into a revision zombie 

There is nothing that you can do all day every day without burning out. It’s really important that you keep time to do things you enjoy… like movies, shopping, sports, Frisbee, rock-climbing, making model planes ,porn, whatever tickles your fancy… When you’re doing these try to relax and totally forget about revision.Meat_Grinder_zombie_7265759848_1

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  1. Read the book aloud when you can 

—hearing it really does help. If you can, record yourself.

  1. Find the right environment to revise

NOT in front of the TV. NOT listening to the radio. Music can sometimes be OK, but you need to find the right kind. It’s got to be something that’s just there in the background that you’re not thinking about at all. Music without singing is better as you won’t be tempted to dance around your bedroom like a big fool.

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Carrie


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Recently, a young person that I know came excitedly up to me and asked “hey, have you ever seen this movie Pulp Fiction, It’s really good”. I resisted the urge to strangle her and thought about the question instead. This person was in her early twenties and unlike me, most parents would not think that Quentin Tarantino was appropriate for a young person to watch. I think that good cinema will work on the intelligence but I have to take into account that not everyone feels as I do. That this is a “new” find for her makes sense. I did, however, draw the line at her trying to explain the plot of this movie that I love to me. Back off kid, I know this movie so well I can think of it linearly. If you get that, I love you, I really do.

This encounter did make me think about the fact that there are so many good books and movies that people have not experienced because they were not around at that time or they were not interested when it was out. So, with that in mind, I am going to do a series of reviews on some of my favorite things. Starting today with Carrie by Stephen King. It’s Halloween after all.

Carrie White is an unpleasant character. She is not likable, not really, she is one of those people that everyone either dislikes or doesn’t really know at all. She is 100 things that make this book completely unworkable, and yet it does work.

This book starts and end in uncomfortable circumstances, and is filled to the brim with uncomfortable moments. The language is rough, the characters are rough, the places are rough, the pacing is rough and no one in this book, with the exception of maybe Tommy Ross, is actually likable. You don’t really have anyone to root for in this book and yet it is one that I sat down and ate whole in one sitting.

The book is essentially about the person in every school, a person that no one likes. I don’t know why that is (I don’t know why there is a universally liked person in every school either but I digress) I just know that this person does exist. Not a person that is unpopular, that is most of every high school. Not a person that is nerdy, for the record most nerds do have friends as they tend to “club up” on one or another mutual interest. This is a person that simply no one likes. Not everyone DISLIKES this person but no one, not a single person in the school actively likes this person.

Carrie white is that person in her hometown Chamberlain and its high school. She is a pale, flabby (not fat) girl, with hair of no color (Carrie as a redhead is a work of movie magic and seems to be the thing that sticks) and a personality that is also of no color. She is ushered into womanhood by a very public and traumatic event that sets the stage for a series of cataclysmic events. The novel itself borrows a little from the style known as Gothic Novel and also and epistolary novel; written as part story, part flashbacks and part articles and fictional post cataclysm book excerpts. There are several moments where the book could turn, could flee from the inevitable horrifying events but, like life, rarely do we take those opportunities.

The characters that aid in the terrible events are Sue Snell, a pretty popular girl, her boyfriend Tommy Ross and Chris Hargensen. Chris, a pouty, pushy, bullying brat of a girl angered by her own inability to twist the system to her will is the final piece in the puzzle that makes the whole bloody mess come to a head.

As I said none of the characters are very likable, save Tommy. Sue is almost likable but I think being one of those girls, those popular girls, makes her immediately unlikable in a way. She is one of those people that everyone knows, has tons of friends but no one can tell you why. Carrie is not likable because she is so uncomfortable. Her whole life is just uncomfortable. Chis though…

Chris to me is actively awful. She is the kind of person that gets my back hairs up. King is wonderful at making these people. She is everything that should make her a good person but she is not. She has everything that she could want and wants none of it. She is popular, attractive, rich (her parents are but in high school that is the same thing) and instead of being a decent human being she uses it as a bludgeon. She knows that she is a terrible person, and cultivates it.

At the climax of this book, you just feel cold. That is not a bad thing, there are several great works that leave you feeling that way. It is the mental opposite of the warm fuzzies. In the end there is no one that you want to win. You just want to put it down and hope you have never hurt anyone for the sake of hurting them when you were too young and insecure to know better. It is one of those books that make you wonder about your own schools poor kid, or the one that carried a briefcase in third grade or whatever your outcast was like in school. What if you had made them your friend? Would a single friend, and not the last ditch Tommy Ross prom date kind of friend but an actual friend, have saved Carrie’s …

If you trace her problems, the sad simple answer is yes, probably. I have read bloggers, and writers that likened Carrie and Columbine. I think that they are wrong in that comparison, The Rage maybe but Carrie is not like Columbine. Carrie’s problems could have, potentially been solved by one friendly gesture early in the girls life.  The first part of the book, the trauma (minor spoiler) the shower and the first menstrual period could have been avoided if Carrie had one female friend in her life. That girl would have told her about periods, we always end up talking about that for some reason, and when she would have begun bleeding she would have been more prepared. Probably relived actually, getting your period at 17 for the first time would be pretty worrisome. If she had had one girl friend to tell her that, no tampons are not for lipstick blotting, and one person she could tell about Mama, she would have been saner. We are social animals and the lack of a society of any normal type was ultimately the catalyst of this cataclysm.

I guess here is where I should say the most useless thing in the world, I like this book. Useless because , it has already made its author rich, it launched one of the most prolific book writing careers in recent history and has been made and remade and remade again. It spawned sequels (bad, awful terrible sequels) and Halloween costumes, a Broadway show and cultural jokes. But I do want to say that I like this book. I don’t love this book, I like it, but I have read it six or seven times. I think it changes as you change, from the person is looking a possible future ( read to 13 or so) to a present ( read at high school) to a look behind. At each point it gives you some new thing to look at, some new thing to feel.

I like this book because it is simply a book of horror. It is a story, about a girl with a terrifying power, just as the original book proclaimed. It is also about high school. About the want to be accepted. About the people that are accepted and those who are not and why. A book about everyone you know, and no one you could ever know. That is why, while it is a work of its time it manages to continue to enchant.